Opinion
Education Opinion

Next-Gen Personalized Learning for ELL Students

By Tom Vander Ark — February 24, 2016 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By Bonnie Lathram & Tom Vander Ark

Almost 5 million students
across the U.S. were English Language Learners in the 2012-13 school year--nearly 10 percent of the overall student population. The number of English
Language Learners increased by 60 percent over the previous decade.

Closing the gaps

With the new Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal government has made teaching English Language Learners a priority through stronger accountability
provisions and the authorization of additional funding. At the same time that our country is growing in diversity--approximately 1 in nine public school
students is an ELL student--schools have to serve students with vastly different backgrounds and needs. English Language Learners face many challenges in
school and test results show they are behind their non ELL peers:

On recent assessments, 14 percent of fourth-grade English-language
learners were proficient in math (compared to approximately 40 percent of non ELL students). ELL students also have lower graduation rates than their peers. ELL students are less
likely to graduate in four years, at approximately 63% (compared to a national average of 82%).

Demographics

English language learners (ELL) make up nearly a quarter of all California elementary and secondary students. At the local level, 25 school districts serve
almost a quarter of all ELL students.

The Migration Policy Institute also reminds us that immigrants make up 13 percent of U.S. residents. Add U.S.
born children immigrants and the number nearly doubles to 80 million people and almost a quarter of the population.

Students who are non native English speakers often do not do as well in school as their peers who speak English. This is a problem that the NEA has said is “deeply rooted, pervasive, complex, and challenging.”

What does next-gen personalized learning look like for ELL students?

Addressing the growing challenge of diverse learners are new tools and blended
learning models. Some applications are specifically designed for ELL, some literacy tools have useful accommodations, some content is automatically
leveled. Some Texas districts have adopted dual language strategies. Somenewcomer schools use immersive and collaborative strategies. Some school networks use a variety of blended and intervention strategies to support
ELL.

We are conducting an analysis of promising new tools and instructional strategies supporting English language learners and teachers. The culminating
publication will feature strategies, tools, policies and supports for students and teachers in the field.

We would like to hear from you about what works. We’d welcome a guest blog from ELL teachers and school and system leaders serving ELL populations (see our guest posting policies).

Following are specific questions we’ll be exploring:

Strategies


  • What specific instructional strategies work well for English language learners?

  • Are there specific strategies that work well for particular student groups: elementary or secondary, refugee students, weak or strong literacy
    skills in their native language?

  • What strategies works when a cohort has one predominantly native language? Do different strategies work when students have many different native
    languages?

  • When are dual language strategies most important and effective?

Tools


  • What ELL tools and applications are effective?

  • What adaptations to literacy tools are important for ELL?

  • What content adaptations in other subjects are important for ELL?

  • What adaptations to learning platforms and assessments are important for ELL?

Engagement and Professional Learning


  • What do students need to acquire English?

  • How does your organization communicate with ELL students and their families?

  • What do teachers need to support ELL students? What gaps exist and what would you recommend?

Policies and Supports


  • What policies support various English language learners?

  • When and how should dual language immersion be supported/encouraged?

  • What incentives and supports should encourage native language proficiency?

  • What kind of training and certification do ELL teachers need? Basic education teachers?

This project will create resources that focus on implementable tools for teachers and instructional leaders that illuminates what is working at the field
level and what gaps are present.

2 ways to share your ideas:


  1. If interested in contributing your story and ideas to the series, please submit a guest blog to editor@gettingsmart.com with the subject line “ELL.”

  2. To share your favorite ELL tool, tip or strategy, please tweet us @Getting_Smart using the hashtag #SupportELL.

For more, see:

This blog is part of the Supporting English Language Learners Series with support from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more, stay tuned for the culminating podcast, infographic and publication.

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP